Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5: Venue, originality and hands down the best way to experience a small piece of the Zoo make up for the drive out to Apple Valley.
If you were looking to cure winter blues on Saturday, Feb. 19 all it took was a ride out to the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. Now if you’re thinking that no event is worth a drive out to Apple Valley, especially in the winter, believe me the same thought crossed my mind. But it was worth it! This dream worthy venue played host to the launch party of the Zoo’s newly formed young professional group, AZUL.
Right from the start you could tell this wasn’t going to be your average event. The invitation provided clues requesting attendees to be dressed in “winter beach casual,” to “meet on the Tropic’s Trail” and the only required items were your flip-flops.
Walking into the event the invite truly lived up to its promise. The trail was balmy with party-goers dressed in a mix of summer dresses with sweaters and an occasional pair of shorts or suit coat. A gigantic sandbox was setup for beach games. Young professionals mingled with each other, AZUL board members and Zoo staff including Lee Ehmke, director and CEO of the Zoo, whose obvious enthusiasm for this group showed through with each conversation. Signature Zoo Cocktails were being served, and after grabbing one myself, I figured what better time to walk around the trail.
Let me tell you the best way to visit the zoo is with a cocktail in hand after hours! The lack of people made it a very personal experience. Throughout the trail knowledgeable Zoo volunteers were on hand to answer questions about the Komodo dragon, lemurs and flamingos. Upon arriving back to the party area, I decided to grab some food. After getting over the “zoo smell,” I was able to snack on some delicious Indian chicken skewers and mini-roast beef sandwiches.
The program included amazing prize drawings and a few heartfelt speeches from Ehmke and AZUL board members about the importance of this group. For $25, this event was a steal. Be sure to check out their upcoming events here.